This blog is about LOVE. Pure and simple. Really, what else is there to write about anyway?
For the past nine months, I have traipsed around the globe talking about choosing Love, expanding into our lives, practicing joy, saying yes yes yes yes yes! Whenever someone comes up to me after I speak and thanks me for saying something that has inspired, I often find myself replying, “I talk about what I need to hear.” That’s true. I am saving the only life I can — my own. I am saving it by choosing Love.
The amazing thing about choosing Love is that, when we do, we find that Love has been just waiting for our thumbs up, our simple assent, our spoken Yes!, to rush into our lives and fill every gap with its life-giving power. There is only one catch — the Yes! cannot come with a preconceived outcome in mind.
Saying Yes! to Love is not like hopping a plane from New York to Los Angeles, with a pretty good assurance that you’ll be seeing palm trees and the Pacific Ocean once you reach your destination. Saying Yes! to Love is more like bidding on a Priceline vacation, putting in your general requirements (beach, three-star hotel, garden view room), then waiting patiently — only to find that the computer has come up with a killer deal on a ski vacation at five-star hotel in the Swiss Alps with a room overlooking the Matterhorn, where you’ve been dying to go ever since you saw Heidi on TV when you were five.
You think — I don’t even ski but, oh what the hell, why not? So, you end up on the vacation of your dreams sipping gourmet Swiss hot chocolate in front of a roaring fire, after the best day of your life snowshoeing through impossibly beautiful terrain with the most gorgeous multilingual tour guide, who also happens to raise Bernese Mountain Dogs, and as it all turns out, thinks that you are the most fascinating human being on the planet.
A year and a half later, you are celebrating your wedding on a grassy Alpine slope that looks like something out of The Sound of Music surrounded by a passel of cute and cuddly Bernese Mountain Dog puppies with one hundred of your closest friends and family, all of whom not only approve, but are thrilled that now you live in Switzerland, they’ll be able to come visit you whenever they like in your gorgeous chalet! Love, in short, always gives us an embarrassment of riches. . . .but only if we are open to those riches coming in forms and ways that we allow to surprise us with their ridiculous effulgence!
That is what happened on my last trip. Love opened its floodgates and I spent the past six weeks awash in blessings I could never have imagined.
When I was growing up, my mother excelled in cautionary tales. She was a past master at the subtle and not-so-subtle warning about the effects of certain choices we make. She waxed particularly eloquent about the perils of celebrity. And while much of what she said WAS true — celebrity does change how we see, sets up false expectations, confers undue privilege on a select few who often misuse it — she missed the boat in one fundamental way which, fortunately for me, my father did not.
In specific, my mother warned me always to be wary of what people wanted from me. The net effect was that I grew up with a reticence to take people, and therefore to take Love, at face value. My father, on the other hand, loved people so much that that Love overrode any concerns he may have had about being a celebrity and what people might want from him. What he wanted was connection, and if his celebrity afforded him a wider scope for that connection, then so be it. His friends included royalty, the rich and famous, artists, academics, art dealers, antique store owners, gardeners, aspiring writers, waiters, drivers, make-up artists, chefs, and countless young people whom he met at colleges all over the country and with whom he corresponded regularly. So, the more I have stepped into my father’s shoes by sharing his legacy with his fans, the more my mother’s caution has been called out on the carpet, and I have had to make a choice.
Much of this last trip was put together by and spent with my father’s fans — people who have come into my life because they love my father and what he stood for. In my mother’s eyes, that would have constituted a giant Danger Will Robinson!! response. And I admit to hearing her admonitions of prudence and reticence ringing in my ears like a leitmotif to my public life.
Happily, at the end of the day, I am my father’s daughter: My desire for connection, my natural Yes! to Love, ultimately always overrides my mother’s naysaying. Which means that I get to see, over and over again, that whenever I choose to show up to Love, Love shows up big time for me.
So, between now and the end of this year, I would like to share some of Love’s cornucopia, as it has spilled out into my life. Which is only appropriate as we head into this week of American Thanksgiving. Because I am grateful beyond measure for what I know I will look back on as a life-changing year!
The bottom line is — I am blessed and fortunate beyond measure to be able to go all of the places, see all of the sights, meet all of the people that I do. But when you spend over 250 days a year on the road, loneliness is a huge challenge. A different hotel room sometimes every night, long stretches in strange cities, days and nights in transit, event after event with new organizers and many hands to shake. I may meet thousands of people, but at the end of the day, I end up with myself in an unfamiliar environment over and over again.
That’s where Love comes in, the Ultimate Superhero ready to save the day.
My first Love Story is about Camp Vincent (this will be a two-parter), which is what our core group who attended the London Legacy Tour have taken to calling our time together in the UK.
They came from Argentina, Australia, Scotland, Belgium, Germany, Spain, France, and all over England and the United States to celebrate the legacy of Vincent Price in the United Kingdom.
Some I knew, most I did not. But at the end of our time together, we had all formed a bond that we treasure beyond measure. We came together because we love my dad. We left loving one another — and taking that Love back around the world with us.
This Love Story starts with one person, and so Part One of the Camp Vincent saga is about him. His name is Peter Fuller. He is from Western Australia, and he grew up a huge Vincent Price fan. He met my dad once, after a performance of my dad’s one-man show about Oscar Wilde in Perth in the late 1970s. Peter knew from an early age that he wanted to be a global citizen, and he has lived an incredibly adventurous life — moving from Australia to Canada to London — but traveling all over the world whenever he can.
In 2011, Peter traveled to St Louis to attend the Vincentennial, the hometown celebration of what would have been my father’s 100th birthday. I met him there, and our connection continued when he bought my father’s journal of his first trip to Europe at age 17 from me, and then created an extraordinary award-winning website that chronicles that journey.
So, when a random idea popped into my head about celebrating my dad’s UK legacy, I reached out to Peter. Not only did he respond with enthusiasm, he also took on the enormous task of organizing and bankrolling the whole event (all of which he managed to juggle alongside his actual paying job). We spent nine months co-creating this trip, and then just prayed it all would work. Boy did it ever!!! (More on that next week, when I write about our Camp Vincent adventures.) So much so that we are now planning our next adventure together. Which is amazing! But even more amazing is the gift of my friendship with Peter.
As anyone who knows me knows, promptness is not my greatest virtue. I struggle with lateness because I take on too much and inevitably am cramming one thing in when I should be doing something else — like leaving for an appointment. The fact that I loathe myself for being late makes it all worse, and often compounds the problem.
The first time I was late on the London tour, I ran up to the restaurant where my dining companions had been waiting for at least ten minutes, and there was Peter standing outside with a sweet smile on his face — no judgment, just kindness. It melted my heart. When I showed up late again for our coach trip the next morning, this time furious with myself for having misjudged my time and then gotten lost coming out of the tube station, once again Peter greeted me with the same sweetness. That’s all it took. Love trumps self-loathing every day of the week.
I never was late again (well, except when I held up the bus because I fell in love with a piece of art at a gallery I just had to buy — but what can I say? I am my father’s daughter and this was a celebration of his legacy!) I did notice however, that after my first two tardies, when Peter gave me instructions about how to get to the next place on our agenda, he suggested that I leave two hours to get there! That number got subtly larger every day, until he had me leaving the night before to get to an 8AM bus. I adored Peter’s quiet humor — which continued to entertain me long after leaving London!
After putting on our successful London legacy tour, Peter and I met up in Wales for the Abertoir Film Festival. We had planned to go see castles on our day off, but when Wednesday dawned with England’s first named storm in history furiously pelting the Welsh coast, we decided on a simpler agenda — a drive down the coast. Despite not feeling well with a sore throat, Peter began playing tour guide with completely made-up factoids about the Welsh sheep population. He then started tossing in marvelously mangled pronunciation and utterly fictional etymology of those multi-consonant Welsh words we all wonder about, and rounded out his hilarity with many other historical and agricultural tidbits that had me chuckling all the way up and down the coast roads of Central Wales. But I completely fell in love with Peter when, while walking by a local butcher in Cardigan, he quietly quipped, “I do love a good meat shop!”
The gift of Peter’s humor was only the tip of the iceberg. For the next three days we never let the aptly named Abi-GALE dampen our spirits. We traipsed through castle ruins, along stormy beaches where we picked up rocks and shells, through small towns and farm stores, as well as hosted events, sold merchandise, and gave talks. All with such simple and easy joy for two people who had hardly spent any time together up to this point. We discovered that we had so much in common — a love of adventure, joy in nature, curiosity about pretty much everything, the ability to change plans and not be thrown, taking pleasure in our organizational abilities, basically easygoing natures and inherent niceness, similar life and work ambitions. Which, of course, brought us to conspiring about future plans for other fun endeavors together.
For years now — years and years now actually — I have been saying that I am tired of driving the bus alone in my idiosyncratic work/creative life. In Peter, I feel that not only have I found a willing co-pilot, but I have actually found someone who will also let me take a nap in the back of the bus when I need to, who suggests or allows me to suggest a fun detour if it strikes either of our fancies, and who values the same back road spirit of adventure as I do. In short, Love showed up and brought me a marvelous partner in adventure, enterprise and humor — someone whose love of life and full-throated yes would have done my father proud.
The wonderful John O’Donohue has said, “A friend. . .awakens your life to free the wild possibilities within you.” My Yes! to showing up to myself, to Love, to the life I have always wanted has brought me a wonderful new friend and co-creator in Peter Fuller. How fortunate am I! And how fortunate were all the participants in Camp Vincent to get to know Peter, to reap the rewards of his hard hard work, and to spend time with him. . . So, for more on all the fun we had, please tune in next week!
In the meantime. . .I leave you with some profound Peter Fuller wisdom:
“Welsh sheep are much cuter than Australian sheep!”
I didn’t ask how he knew (TMI?!), but I tell you what, those Welsh sheep really ARE adorable!
As is my adorable, funny, kind, clever, darling, generous, lovely new friend and and partner in adventure, enterprise, laughter and love -- Peter Fuller!